Each year, Bruce Feldman — now with The Athletic — writes a preseason story highlighting the biggest “freaks” in college football.
By Feldman’s definition a freak is a player who generates buzz inside their programs by displaying the unique physical abilities that wow even those who observe gifted athletes every day.
The 2022 list is 100 players long and Feldman featured a pair of Vols this season.
Tennessee defensive tackle Elijah Simmons is No. 94 on the list thanks to his massive size, surprising quickness and unsurprising strength.
“A former middle school running back, Simmons has grown into a 6-2, 340-pound powerhouse who is the Vols’ strongest player,” Feldman writes. Simmons bench-presses 455, incline-presses 385 and power-cleans 345.”
Simmons recorded 11 total tackles and a pass deflection while earning consistent snaps as a sophomore last season. The Nashville native is entering his junior season looking to fill the void Matthew Butler’s departure leaves in the interior of Tennessee’s defensive line.
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Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright is the other Vol un the list, coming in at No. 24. Wright’s speed stands out immediately, but the North Carolina native’s added serious bulk entering his sophomore season.
“The 5-11 Wright is up to 200 pounds but displayed some serious juice this offseason, clocking 23.6 mph in practice. Beyond that, Wright vertical-jumped 44 inches and did a 10-8 broad jump.”
Wright ran for 409 yards and four touchdowns on 85 carries a season ago while bouncing back-and-forth from Tennessee’s second and third running back spot.
The speedster has been limited during most of fall practice due to a minor injury, but did more drill work on Thursday than he has in most of fall camp.
Wright’s bound to play a major role in Tennessee’s offense during his second season.
Seven SEC teams had players on the “Freaks List” with Georgia and Alabama leading the way with three players and Tennessee, Texas A&M and Florida were slightly behind with two. Ole Miss, Auburn and LSU all had one player on the list.
Fifteen of the 100 players on the list come from the SEC.